Los Angeles Unified School District employee salaries

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Los Angeles Unified School District employee salaries are public records under the California Public Records Act. The Los Angeles Daily Times has 3,478 records of Los Angeles Unified School District employees earning more than 100,000 a year.[1]

The employee earning the highest salary in the school district in 2008 was the Superintendent of Schools. The Superintendent of Schools earned $300,000, followed by the General Counsel who earned $248,256.

Top LAUSD employee salaries, 2008[1]
Name Total salary Job title
Brewer, David $300,000.00 Superintendent Of Schools
Reed, Kevin $248,256.24 General Counsel
Medina, Maribel $234,963.84 Special Counsel To Board Of Ed
Mehula, Joseph $232,572.00 Chief Facilities Executive
Holmquist, David $229,500.00 Chief Operating Officer
Ephraim, Ronni $225,000.00 Dep Chf Acad Ofcr/Prof Lrng&Dev Elem Ed
Reilly, Megan $221,988.00 Chief Financial Officer
Davis, Donald $217,692.00 Chief Of Staff
Tortorice, Anthony $212,724.00 Chief Information Officer
Kendall, James $210,996.00 Dpty Chief Exec Existing Facil

Employees paid to "do nothing"

Employees awaiting misconduct review get paychecks

In 2009, it was uncovered that LAUSD was "housing" employees.[2] The district was paying employees facing misconduct allegations to sit in district offices while their fitness as educators was reviewed. "The housed are accused, among other things, of sexual contact with students, harassment, theft or drug possession. Nearly all are being paid. All told, they collect about $10 million in salaries per year -- even as the district is contemplating widespread layoffs of teachers because of a financial shortfall."[2]

Employees no longer employed continue receiving pay

According to an audit conducted by the LAUSD Inspector General, the school district wasted $200 million on paying employees no longer working for the district. The audit said there were some 1,700 employees on the district's payroll who shouldn’t be there.[3] These were employees who were hired for temporary jobs, but stayed on after the funding for their jobs expired and continued to get paid by the district.

Salary records project

In 2011, Sunshine Review chose 152 local governments as the focus of research on public employee salaries. The editors of Sunshine Review selected eight states with relevant political contexts (listed alphabetically):

1. California
2. Florida
3. Illinois
4. Michigan
5. New Jersey
6. Pennsylvania
7. Texas
8. Wisconsin

Within these states, the editors of Sunshine Review focused on the most populous cities, counties and school districts, as well as the emergency services entities within these governments. The purpose of this selection method was to develop articles on governments affecting the most citizens.

The salary information garnered from these states were a combination of existing online resources and state Freedom of Information Act requests sent out to the governments.

Importance of public employee pay disclosure

In July 2010, The Los Angeles Times uncovered that officials in Bell, California were making remarkably high salaries.[4] Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo was earning a yearly $787,637. It was later uncovered that Rizzo's total compensation after taking benefits into account topped $1.5 million a year.[5]

For comparison:[4]

  • Manhattan Beach, with about 7,000 fewer people than Bell, paid its most recent city manager $257,484 a year.
  • Long Beach, with a population close to 500,000, paid its city manager $235,000 annually.
  • Los Angeles County paid its chief executive, William T. Fujioka, $338,458.

Corruption solution

After this report was released, governments began to proactively disclose salary information of their employees. Before the end of the summer of 2010, more than a dozen cities in Orange County, for example, posted salary information on the front pages of their websites.[6]

The cost of transparency websites maintaining such information ranges from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands. These websites also save money, and this often is not taken into account when measuring costs.

Citizens upset about the breach of trust and armed with information formed a group called the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse, which pushed for an independent audit of city salaries and contracts.[7]

Citizens, empowered with information, are key to keeping government free from corruption and efficient. A study published by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia revealed that the city of Philadelphia has a problem with the efficiency and costs of public employee pensions.[8] The amount that Philadelphia pays to pension recipients limits the city’s ability to use its budget effectively.

The report revealed that there were more individuals receiving pension benefits—33,907 claimants in 2006—than workers in the city—28,701.[8] The authors of the study recommend three steps towards addressing the problem of high costs in pensions.[8] First, improve data collection so that decision-making in terms of pension policies is more informed. Second, promote transparency for better accountability to citizens. Third, reduce costs and use the savings for developing Philadelphia.

Resistance to public employee salary data as public records

The idea of making public employee salaries is relatively new. In 2008, several local government employee associations and unions protested the posting of state employee salaries by newspaper The Sacramento Bee.[9][10] At the time, it was seen as a safety risk and invasion of privacy.

Sunshine Review aims in posting salary information

Publicly posted salaries often leave out important information. Salary schedules can be published as ranges, not as specific take-home compensation, and high-level, highly-paid positions are often not disclosed proactively.[6][5] Additionally, salaries leave out compensation received through health and retirement benefits, as well as benefits such as commuter allowances and cell phone reimbursements. This project aimed to close the gap and provide a more accurate picture of public employee salaries for the sake of public education and transparency.

See also

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References